Holiness not Morality

Matthew 5:43-48

New International Version (NIV)

Love for Enemies

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[a] and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

I have heard often about how the world doesn’t need God to be good.  I heard those who don’t believe in Jesus Christ, that they do not need Jesus to do the right thing.  I have heard how “religion” causes more harm that good.  I have heard how we would all be better off without religion but mainly Christianity.  As Christianity is blame for all of the world’s major issues and people use the flaws of men professing Christ as a litmus test for morality.  But in this quest to toss God out and this Jesus because He is not needed to be moral, they miss the point entirely.

Christianity is different as the faith does not encourage the believer to be “good”.  Some may gasp at that statement but the word of God says that no one is good.  When the people referred to Jesus as “good teacher”, his reply was “why do you call me good? no one is good but the Father.”  When the rich young ruler began to lay out his case for his goodness or moral uprightness, Jesus put his morality to the test.  In Romans 1, 3 and 8, a case is made that we reject truth, a holy God, don’t seek good, are not good and can’t hope to be good or obey God because we are incapable of doing so.  So if we can’t hope to be good or moral, why would morality be the end goal of an entire faith?

If this is so, there would be no one after Moses and the Law of God.  The golden rule that so many hold to don’t understand the golden rule at all.  The golden rule is the ten commandments broken down to its main core.  The purpose of the Law was not to give us a way of life but to show that we are living a sinful way of life.

Romans 3:19Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. 20For by works of the law no human being[c] will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.

Galatians 3:19Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by an intermediary. 20Now an intermediary implies more than one, but God is one. 21Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. 22But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.

So those who hold to a “law” imprisons themselves to that law and is forced to keep that law perfectly or they are forever lost without redemption.  Those that try to live a moral and ethical life according to a set of rule are doomed to failure because within their laws, they are hopeless.  They are hopeless because they are to inconsistent to live to the guidelines of morality that they themselves set out.  Even according to man’s own standards everyone is evil.  If that be the case, how would we fair against God’s standards?  In our case we constantly change,  amend, ratify, retire, legislate and create more rules and laws.  We “reform” bills and laws to make moral adjustments to offset or counteract our sinful tendency to be consistently self serving.   In the introductory scripture, Jesus is not addressing unbelievers but those that are following him and the twelve disciples.  He addresses the “golden rule”,  he talks about loving your enemies and praying for those that persecutes them for their beliefs.  He says that even pagans love those that love them.  Even pagans can be moral and actually anybody can be nice to the person who is being nice back.  It is easy to treat people right who have not crossed us.  I can quickly call myself a good person if I just avoid “bad” people.  But he says that God sends rains to the just and the unjust so we have no right to pick and choose who we love.  Doing so is not moral nor good yet still that is not the point Jesus is about to drive home.  He first gives the example of God showing mercy on everyone, good and evil, righteous and unrighteous.  Then Jesus ends by saying be like your heavenly Father, thus be perfect and show love to all.  To show love to all is to not condemn but offer life just like Jesus Christ.  To be perfect is not to be morally perfect but holy just as The Lord is holy.

14As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” 17And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile,

But how can be holy?

1 Peter 1:13Therefore, preparing your minds for action,[a] and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

1 Peter 1:22Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, 23 since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God;

To be a Christian is not to be moral but to be holy.  To be holy, set your mind and heart on Jesus Christ. You live for Christ and not yourself…  You live out your salvation in Christ.  You do not live out your moral do’s and don’ts list.

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